There are 2 types of divers
For those who know me, I do not wear a wetsuit at the best of times but back in the day, before being introduced to my best friend "drysuit", it was a given that myself, or others would end up urinating in our suits, especially on those dives where we had long boat rides in South Africa.
I’ve decided to write a little about why I think you should pee in your wetsuit and do it proudly, backed by science and experience
Do it often
You need to pee more often while diving, and science says it’s totally normal! JUST DON'T PEE IN YOUR DRYSUIT (unless you have the catheter or nappie)!
Doctors say the average healthy adult human should urinate AT LEAST 4-6 times a day. If you’re diving, you might as well throw this figure out the window thanks to a little thing called immersion diuresis.
Immersion diuresis is the medical term for what happens to the bodies of swimmers and divers as a result of going into water that is cooler than the air outside and it is also a part of the mammalian dive reflex. It is the reason why you have to pee more frequently when you’re in the water, especially colder water.
How it works
When you enter cool water, your body is like “WOW that's cold.... I need to stay warm!” So the blood vessels in your arms, legs, skin, etc. constrict. As a result, extra blood flows to your major internal organs and this then “tricks” your kidneys into thinking that you’ve got quite a bit of extra fluid in your system. The kidneys then produce urine to try and maintain a proper balance as they make “room” for the extra blood. As a result, you have to pee…usually quite often.
Dehydration is a serious concern for divers. Did you know that majority of divers DO NOT drink or eat before a dive only because they think this will stop them from needing to pee! Well this is a wrong method!
Dehydration can cause all sorts of problems for divers and is said to be a predisposing factor for DCS hits, therefore it’s critical to stay hydrated while diving. As a freediver and scuba diving instructor, I ALWAYS tell my students to drink tons of water before, during and after and pee as much as they like to prevent any problems... BUT they need to wash their hired gear!
Many people underestimate just how easy it is to get seriously dehydrated while diving. Whether you’re diving in a wetsuit or drysuit, you start losing fluids by sweating before you even enter the water especially here in Malta in summer. Then, once you enter the water, immersion diuresis causes even further fluid loss as the kidneys produce more urine. In addition, fluid loss via respiration is accelerated when diving because the compressed gas you breathe has virtually 0 humidity.
To top it off, if you consume coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages, you’re bound to lose even more fluids because these are all diuretics that further contribute to fluid loss and dehydration.
As you can see, it’s extremely easy to get dehydrated while diving, hence why it’s foolish to skip out on fluids prior to diving.
Here's a quick food for thought: the more dehydrated you are, the more...ahhhh…'potent' your urine will smell. Stay hydrated and healthy!! Your dive buddies will thank you.
Do not hold in your pee
You may have heard that resisting the urge to urinate can cause UTIs (urinary tract infections), and while that is kind of true and UTIs are pretty terrible, it is not nearly the worst thing that can happen if you hold it for too long. In some cases, urine can get backed up into the kidney and then cause a kidney infection, which can carry some serious consequences.
Holding your pee for too long on a regular basis can also damage your pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles that give us control over urination and bowel movements. It’s best not to risk damaging those very important muscles. If you’ve got to go... LET IT GO
Many instructors demand that their students DO NOT pee in their hired suits as some dive centre staff have to clean the hired gear themselves and trust me, the smell is unbearable in the summer heat!
As grose as it may sound, I would much rather have my students peeing in their suit, getting rid of that urge as it could halt their ability to perform certain tasks underwater due to the urge to GET OUT AND PEE! It can be a distraction and an annoyance to most people at the best of times on a daily basis.
I would much rather spend some extra time at the end of a day sanitizing rental suits than have my students distracted by their bladders or counting down the minutes till they can get out of the water to pee. Students should be as comfortable and focused as possible during their courses, even if that means all instructors need to do extra clean-up later.
The same goes for pleasure diving. If you’re spending half of your dive feeling uncomfortable because you need to pee, your not focused on the most important diving objective: completing the dive safely. Going on holiday to dive on the Maltese wrecks but all you can think of is " I need to pee, I need to pee", how are you going to explore and take photos of your dive, let alone enjoy the dive?
Urine will NOT damage your wetsuit
The good news about your urine is that it’s not filled with acid or flesh-eating bacteria either. Human urine is said to be 95% water, 2.5% urea, and 2.5% a mixture of other stuff. Nothing in your urine will eat away at the seams of your wetsuit or create holes, so don’t worry about damaging your suit with a little bit of pee here and there.
That said, you should always be sure to properly rinse out your suit in freshwater after a dive to keep it in the best shape possible. If you pee in your suit, it’s ideal to give it a little extra care to prevent any less-than-pleasant smells from sticking around. You should be taking care of yours or the hired gear regardless if you peed or not!
There is NO shame
The bottom line is: don’t let anyone make you feel gross for doing something your body does naturally, especially if it makes your dives more comfortable and safe, and enables you to do more advanced dives. Pee in your wetsuit to your heart’s content…and do it proudly.
With saying that, if your renting gear, take responsibility and clean up. Wash YOUR rented suits properly and make sure you respect other dive centres if they ask that you do not urinate in their suits. If you do find that your a frequent urinator, BUY YOUR OWN SUIT!
Written by: Amy-Sarah Lottering